Marsala Poached Pears


Bosc pears poached in Marsala wine with star anise, cinnamon, and cloves.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Don’t you just love it when you put something together on a whim, and it works out the first time?

My friend Garrett had a few extra pears from a baking adventure which I decided to poach in Marsala wine, with some sugar, star anise, cinnamon, and cloves.

Star anise has a strong licorice flavor, so I was a little worried my poached pears would end up tasting like Good-n-Plenty. Fortunately, the other spices rose to the occasion and along with the Marsala infused the pears with a happy, spicy, delicious aroma.

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Marsala Poached Pears Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 4 servings

Firm, just ripe pears should be used. If overly ripe, the pears will cook up mushy. If Bosc pears are not available, Bartlett or Anjou can be substituted. You can core the pears if you wish, from the bottom, but it really is not necessary.


  • 4 bosc pears, peeled, stem still attached, 1/4-inch of bottom sliced off so pears can easily sit upright
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine (or Madeira)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon


1 Make the spiced marsala syrup: In a saucepan just large enough to fit all of the pears, place the Marsala wine, sugar, lemon juice, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

2 Poach the pears in the syrup: Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and place the pears in the pan, standing upright. Cover the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes (if you want, baste with the liquid a couple of times during the cooking), until the pears can easily be pierced with a fork.

how to poach pears

Very firm pears make need to cook for up to 20 minutes.

Once poached, remove the pears to a serving dish.

3 Boil down the syrup until it becomes a glaze.  Keeping the pan uncovered, let the Marsala syrup boil down for a few minutes until it is a thick syrup. (If it begins to caramelize, remove pan from the heat and add a little water to the pan to stop the cooking.)

4 Pour syrup over pears and serve.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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10 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMarsala Poached Pears

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jenifer

    I made this using sweet, Boronia Marsala, and left out the anise – was wonderful just with the cloves and cinnamon.
    I would halve the pears next time and lie them down, to avoid the unattractive red tide mark partway up.
    Otherwise, yum! Perfect! And the leftover syrup is very nice over ice cream.

  2. kmiffy

    I made this with cardamom instead of star anise as suggested by Elise in the comments section, and it turned out great! A lovely alternative for those of us who aren’t fans of anise.


  3. Anton

    Could you substitute anise seeds for star anise? They differ in flavor, so how much would you recommend to use in this case?

    I haven’t tried that substitute, so wouldn’t know what to tell you. If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  4. Nate

    I recently poached some Asian pears in sake with ume (Japanese pickled plum) for flavoring. Poached pears are a great dessert!

  5. Adam

    I had a bunch of pears sitting around so I just made this.

    “Cleanup on aisle delicious!”


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